Saskatoon

Saskatchewan needs a seniors strategy: health policy analyst

As Saskatchewan's population ages and demands on the health care system grow, health policy analyst Steven Lewis says the province needs to develop a seniors strategy.

Steven Lewis says seniors falling through cracks of health care system

Health policy analyst says province needs to create an organization dedicated to seniors care. (Canadian Press)

As Saskatchewan's population ages and demands on the health care system grow, health policy analyst Steven Lewis says the province needs to develop a seniors strategy.

"I think we need to look at this as the next great wave of health care reform," Lewis said.

Lewis said the current health-care system was designed in the 1960s when the population was younger and focussed mainly on physicians and hospital services. He said the system needs to be adjusted to take into account a changing demographic.

"We weren't prepared to deal with what we're now seeing, which is an increasing large, very old seniors population, many of whom live alone, and many of whom have a lot of chronic diseases, and a considerable number of whom have some cognitive impairment," he said.

Lewis believes the province needs to create an organization dedicated to seniors care and to start experimenting on a large scale.

"Let's create a pool of funds which already exists from within the health region and so on, and let's dedicate those to developing this seniors strategy."

Right now, according to Lewis, the health care system tends to leave people on their own to get by, forcing them to rely on family and friends to help out.

"We're going to end up paying sooner or later," he said. "Their health will break down. They will reach a crisis point and then they will show up at the emergency room. So this is really high stakes prevention."

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning